Thursday, March 5, 2015

Shrimp Pad Thai and a Delicious Side Salad

Genes are funny things. A gene can be lurking in a parent who doesn't even know it's there and then, years later, a child finds out through a blood test that she's inherited one gene from each parent that has given her some gluten intolerance. That child would be my daughter and both my husband and I each gave her a gene that was recessive in us but in her...not so much. Thankfully, it's not a severe intolerance.  She had complained about some digestive issues ever since college and recently had a blood test done to find out what was causing it.

So why do I have a plate full of pasta pictured as I'm talking about gluten intolerence?  That's because it's not pasta at all but wide rice noodles. For all of you who have family members or friends who have a gluten intolerance and still want to serve them a delicious meal, this is a recipe that will satisfy everyone at the table.  It was pictured in a recent Williams Sonoma catalog and found on their website.

I served this Asian-style salad that I found on Food and Wine with our meal and also some roasted asparagus.  The dressing is slightly creamy and the toasted macadamia nuts and sesame seeds gave it a nice crunch.  The salad was supposed to include Enoki mushrooms but, since I couldn't find them, I substituted cucumber which gave the salad a nice refreshing flavor. 

The dinner was a wonderful combination of flavors! 

Shrimp Pad Thai

Serves 4

Wide Rice Noodles (found in the Asian aisle of your food store), 14-16 oz package

1 Tbs. canola oil
1 lb. (500 g) large shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used about a half pound more)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup Pad Thai noodle sauce, plus more, to taste (I used Annie Chun brand)
2 green onions, white and light green portions, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
1 cup (4 oz./125 g) bean sprouts

1/4 cup (1 oz./30 g) chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
Chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
Lime wedges for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.

Meanwhile, in a very large nonstick sauté pan or wok over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the shrimp and stir-fry until opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a bowl.

Add a little more oil to the same pan to heat and then add the eggs, stirring occasionally, until lightly set but still soft, about 1 minute. Transfer the eggs to the plate with the shrimp. Remove the pan from the heat.

Add the rice noodles to the boiling water and cook until barely al dente, 3-4 minutes. Drain the noodles thoroughly and transfer to the pan or wok.

Place the pan over medium heat and return the shrimp and eggs to the pan. Add the noodle sauce, green onions, carrots and the bean sprouts. Cook, using tongs to lift and toss the noodles constantly, until the ingredients are well blended and heated through, about 1-2 minutes Taste and add more noodle sauce if desired, tossing to combine.

Transfer the noodles to a platter or serve right from the pan.

Pass the chopped peanuts, extra cilantro leaves and lime wedges at the table.

Mixed Asian Salad with Macadamia Nuts

Adapted from Food and Wine
Printable Recipe


2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha chili sauce or other hot chili sauce (I used Cholula Chili Lime sauce)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup macadamia nuts (3 ounces)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
A clam shell of organic baby mixed greens - about 1/2 to 3/4 pound
1 large cucumber, seeded and sliced

In a blender, combine the mayonnaise, rice and white wine vinegars, soy sauce, honey, ginger, sesame oil, garlic and chili sauce and process to mix. With the machine on, blend in the vegetable oil in a thin stream. Scrape the dressing into a small bowl and season with salt and pepper.

In a medium skillet, cast iron preferably, toast the macadamia nuts over moderately low heat, shaking the skillet, until the nuts are a deep golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a plate to cool. Add the sesame seeds to the skillet and toast until a deep golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer the sesame seeds to a plate to cool. Coarsely chop the macadamia nuts and mix with the toasted sesame seeds.

In a large salad bowl, toss the baby greens with the sliced cucumbers. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well. Scatter the toasted macadamia nuts and sesame seeds all over the salad and toss briefly once more and serve.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Italian Bacon and Cheese 'Snail' Rolls

First of all, let me tell you that these delicious rolls were a 'labor of love'! I first saw the charming, snail-shaped rolls called "Lumachelle of Orvieto" on Chiara's Italian blog La Voglia Matta in January. Lumaca means snail in Italian and Oriveto is the city in Umbria where they are popular. I immediately put the recipe to the top of my stack of recipes to try. And, try and try I did, with the first real success coming today after two previous attempts.

For the first attempt, I made the dough in my bread machine and made the rolls in muffin tins.  I used smoked ham instead of pancetta and used sharp cheddar cheese. While they looked good and had a nice crumb while warm, they hardened too much after cooling.

For the second batch, I used another recipe that I found on the internet that didn't call for any butter or lard as the first recipe did but use more olive oil.  I kneaded by hand, as the recipe states, and used cooked bacon and grated, aged Pecorino Romano cheese.  These also hardened way too much after they cooled.  Little hockey pucks! I could have given up then and just posted a nice picture and kept my fingers crossed that you had better luck than I - but I just couldn't do that. 

It was then that I decided that the hardening was likely due to using American flour instead of fine, Italian flour.  It's also possible that I didn't add enough water to the dough as it is very dry in the house here in winter. The other factor could be that the original Italian recipes call for uncooked bacon or pancetta which could add additional fat while they bake and make them more tender.  However, I was afraid of using uncooked bacon. 

Whatever the reason, I decided to switch gears and try a totally different dough recipe because I still thought the idea sounded delicious.  I picked the famous Jim Lahey recipe for No-Knead bread dough that ferments on the kitchen counter overnight for 12-18 hours.  It was an Aha! moment when I tasted the first of these rolls!

The rolls were crusty on the outside and tender on the inside, just like a good baguette!  Hours later, I tasted one again and the interior was still soft and delicious (even though I got distracted and baked them a couple of minutes longer than I should have).

A soft and delicious crumb in the center and crusty goodness on the outside with bits of bacon and sharp cheddar cheese.  Yum! They would be delicious for breakfast with an omelette or as an on-the-go breakfast or lunch.  As is true with most delicious rolls, they are best eaten the same day.

All three attempts were formed in the same way by rolling small 50 oz balls of dough into ropes and then wrapping them around and around one end to make the snail shape. Here's a video if you'd like to see how an Italian bakery makes them. 

Whenever I make a European recipe I'm always so glad I have a digital kitchen scale so I can convert ounces to grams!

I think these two are going to love them ♥

If you'd like to try making your own Lumachelle of Orvieto using the original recipe follow the links to Chiara's Blog and the blog that was her inspiration below. 

Italian Bacon and Cheese Rolls

"Lumachelle of Orvieto" - Original Recipes found on La Voglia Matta, and Anice and Cannella, which I adapted using Jim Lahey's No Knead Dough

Note: This is the original dough recipe cut in half and it yielded 9 rolls.  You can follow the link to the original Jim Lahey recipe above and use half the dough for these rolls and half for a small loaf of bread - great idea!

1-1/2- cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for dusting
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 rounded teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup diced lean bacon
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add water, and stir until blended.  The dough will be sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest on the kitchen counter at least 12 hours and preferably 18, at room temperature, about 70 degrees. The dough is ready when the surface is dotted with bubbles.

Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it.  Pat the dough out into a rectangle and add the cooked bacon and shredded cheese. Sprinkle with a little more flour and fold it over on itself several times until the bacon and cheese are incorporated. Form a ball with the dough and cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

Cut the dough into 9 equal pieces and roll each piece into a rope.  Make a spiral shape with the ropes but do not roll too tightly.  Place spirals on a silicone or parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet dusted with a little flour. Dust surface of rolls with a little bit of flour and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow to rest at least 1 hour or up to 1-1/2 hours. 

About 20 minutes for the resting time in finished, preheat the oven to 450F. 

When ready to bake, remove plastic wrap from rolls and place in hot oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack.